Auld Lang Syne: 2015 My Year in Review

As 2015 comes to a close, I want to send out a huge “Thank You” to all of you who have been reading and following my blog this last year and the Happiest of New Years to each and every one of you!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been reflecting on what opportunities I have been able to experience and what I have accomplished in 2015.  This year gave me some once in a lifetime experiences and some memories that I dearly cherish.

2015:  A Year in Review

  • In mid April, I submitted my Weight Loss Story to People Magazine and to Joy Bauer’s Joy Fit Club.
  • I heard from a producer (Kate) of the Today’s Show’s Joy Fit Club and interviewed me on the phone and I sent in photographs for them to consider in their meeting.  They would be making a decision the end of April.
  • In April, I began learning how to cross-stitch and began working on a couple of quilts.
  • I took a cruise in late April to Cozumel and Grand Cayman and found out I was invited to be on the Today Show/Joy Fit Club in May when I was in Grand Cayman and I was told I had to wear my 1984 Halloween costume!
  • In May I was blessed to reach a weight I wanted to reach when I was 23 years old but only came within 8 pounds of reaching it.  Which happened to be half my body weight when I began trying to become healthier.
  • In May, I appeared on local NBC affiliate News Channel 8 pre and post Today Show appearance.  The Pre Today Show interview with Melanie Michael, she did an awesome job! I only had 45 minutes notice that she was coming and I happened to have a bunch of bananas under my desk that day! lol
  • On the evening I arrived in NYC, I met up with Weight Watchers from CT while I was in NYC whom I had met in a Facebook Weight Watchers Group. This was so much fun to walk about NYC and talk face to face as we enjoyed the sights of the city. (Amy, Donna and Jo-Anne)  We walked through Central Park, Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza.
  • On May 17th, I was blessed to appear on NBC’s Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb and Joy Bauer wearing my Halloween costume from 1984! Talk about fun!  The cast, crew and producers were awesome, especially Kate!
  • The Post Today Show (right after the show literally) interview was done from the Orange room with WFLA’s Rod Carter.  He happened to be in town covering the Tampa Bay Lightning who were playing in the playoffs with the New York Rangers.  So cool! GO BOLTS!!!
  • Met and talked with Dean Cain (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) in the Orange Room at the Today Show.  BONUS:  He knows about the USF Bulls!
  • I saw Ricky Schroder that day too but I was in hair and makeup and didn’t get an opportunity to meet him but my mom did.
  • After the Today Show, I was hungry and my mom and I had New York Pizza at the Concourse!
  • Tried to get in to see Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show taping but that day the show was being done for an all military audience.  Saw many of them around the Concourse in their uniforms and in the NBC Experience Store.
  • Walked to Macy’s on 34th Street after having pizza.  So much fun seeing “the” Macy’s where the Thanksgiving Day Parade happens every year!  I grew up watching the parade so this was a “must do” for me while in NYC!  Also taking the wooden escalator was fun too!  That is a HUGE store!
  • The next day we walked to Weight Watchers International and toured the headquarters in New York City.  It was foggy that morning but could see the top of the Empire State Building from the rooftop of Weight Watchers!  Thanks Jenny! Also noticed that Mattel has offices in the same building.
  • In early July, I celebrated one year at my goal weight and Lifetime.
  • In Mid July, I recorded a series of video interviews about my weight loss journey to be used to train professional counselors when working with clients for weight loss and to be used in counseling classes at Penn State.
  • In July, I underwent a surgical biopsy and was diagnosed with breast cancer and declared breast cancer free.  I became a Breast Cancer Survivor.
  • My Weight Loss Story appeared in the Tampa Tribune on Saturday, September 5th.  Thanks Mia!
  • In September/October,  I redesigned and relaunched my Weights and Balances website with a new design and more information with my own dedicated email.
  • In early October I designed business cards to hand out at meetings, etc.
  • Spoke to both Graduate and Undergraduate Exercise Science students about my weight loss journey with a focus on Behavioral Theories in October and November 2015.
  • Throughout the year I wa invited to speak at Weight Watcher Meetings in Tampa Bay about my weight loss journey.
  • Participated in the FIT Program for the 5th time and gained some more strength in my arms and upper body. Had the most awesome trainers too!  Thanks Rachel and Michael (more about them later in a separate blog entry on the FIT Program)
  • My mom and I took a 9-night cruise in November to Aruba, Bonaire and Grand Turk.  We had a wonderful time and I completed 4 quilt blocks (cross stitch) on the cruise for a project which I just completed today!)
  • While I was on the November cruise I spoke with a lady who said she had heard about me and watched me on the Today Show, that was a very fun experience.
  • n December, I began the new Weight Watchers SmartPoints Program in December. It hasn’t been a seamless transition but I am working on it!  The phone application and computer etools still do not contain all my information.
  • My blog entries about my first week’s experience with the new Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale Program had over one-thousand views!
  • This year I kept my blog going and began to organize my articles and blog entries for a book.

2016: What’s Next?

There were many exciting adventures in 2015 and I am not sure how 2016 can top many of those adventures but it will be interesting to see.  In 2016, I want to keep encouraging and helping others in their journeys to greater health.  Another big accomplishment I am looking forward to is to celebrate 2 years at or below my Weight Watchers Goal weight!  One challenge I will be facing next year is the loss of my current supervisor at work.  She has accepted a position as Dean and will be moving away by summer.  More change.  While I am thrilled for her new position, I am sad for me as she has been wonderful to work with in the last two years. Like the saying says “the only thing in life that is constant is change.”  2016 will bring me a new supervisor and more changes on the work front. I will be praying that I will be able to meet the new challenges ahead of me.

2015 was an amazing year and 2016 will be spectacular!

Happy New Year 1


Scale Wars: The Dark Side of Eating

I haven’t seen the new Star Wars movie as of today, but I think the firestorm of heated criticism of the new Weight Watchers Program Beyond the Scale (SmartPoints) could compare with StormTroopers trying to defeat rebel forces (that is the theme of all the past movies).  In my version of Star Wars I see the Weight Watcher Program as the “good” guys (rebels) and the Weight Watchers members are Stormtroopers who are moving at the command of “Lord Dark Fatty Sugar Vader.”   A bit harsh? Maybe but bottom line it is true.

All of us good little sugar and fat stormtroopers (myself included) are so yes I will use the word “addicted” to “dark side” of eating that we are reduced to helpless screaming two-year olds when we are told “no” that isn’t good for us! While we have known it for a long time, Weight Watchers has in the past played the role of the endearing/enabling Grandparent who loves to spoil the grandkids with those sugary fatty treats.  Even Weight Watchers are reconfiguring their products (to some degree) to make them more compatible with the new program.

We all know junk foods are formulated to make us addicted to them.  Manufacturers spend billions of dollars on junk food science to manipulate us into eating their products.  But yet we willing to continue to eat these chemically altered foods designed to enslave us to sugars and saturated fats.  We have to break the cycle of depending on these types of foods not only for our health but for the sake of the generation to follow.  Be an example to your children, grandchildren, students, friends and anyone, break the sugar/fat cycle!

What can you do to lessen your eating on the dark side?

I found this great article called “Sugar Addiction Escape Plan”  that give ten steps (yes, that might sound like something else) to help free yourself from sugar addiction.

Lord Fat Sugar Vader

Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale – Part 5 (Week 1 Summary)


This week has presented some challenges and some victories.  I am not sure what to expect on the scale in the morning though.  I stayed within my daily points, didn’t use any weekly points and I earned 49 FitPoints this week.  Everyone has commented how easy it is to earn FitPoints and I found my FitPoints to be almost equal to what they were on the PointsPlus Program with only one exception.  My daily walking seems to be about the same points wise.   I manually enter my fitness data into the website I do not use a fitness monitor at this time.  I know those with fitness monitors are reporting very high FitPoint numbers.

My week started off with my Sunday morning breakfast having to change due to the increased amount of points of the Special K Chocolate infused cereals.  I can see maybe mixing the Special K with Cheerios or Rice Krispies to extend the bulk and spread the points out a bit better.

Monday was fairly routine with my weekly stop at Chick Fil A.  My chicken biscuit on a regular non toasted non buttered bun had gone down one point YAY!  I was surprised to see that my normal 2 hard-boiled eggs which had been 4pp were mysteriously now 5sp BUT yet 2 eggs were 4sp.  I think that is a mistake and was advised to use the 4sp for two eggs.

Tuesday was the first morning to fix my oatmeal and I already knew I was going to have to stop putting the one ounce of raisins in my oatmeal.   I have used frozen cherries and mixed berries and that has been very good.  I had a lunch at a local Greek restaurant with coworkers. I chose chicken kabob and roasted vegetables, very tasty!  I also had a piece of their bread with some Tzatziki sauce and a wedge of lavash bread.  I took half of my food home.

Wednesday was routine and nothing surprising other than I noticed my FitPoints were mirroring my old Activity Points and didn’t seem to be inflated as others.  I started wondering if the difference was manual entry vs fitness monitor and that seems to be the case.  It would appear the fitness monitors are not as accurate as many believe.

Thursday was fairly routine as well.  I ate the other half of my leftover Tuesday lunch for Wednesday dinner. I earned 15 FitPoints yay me!

Today was the last Friday at work before Christmas and the office was invited to our Dean’s house for lunch for homemade Cuban food.  I planned out my strategy for lunch and pre-tracked what I thought I was going to have and in what serving sizes.  Yes I would use most of my daily points but it was going to be worth it.  I reviewed my tracker when I got back to the office and found I had  over-estimated several items on portion size and had points left for the evening! Yay!

Week Ending Thought
I would say I would get a 95 on a scale of 100 for following the plan this week but I am not sure what I will see on  the scale as this with the week that my hormones reap havoc with my body and the scale.  I know it kept me reaching for candy earlier this week!

I was up one pound today.  I wasn’t shocked with the week of birthday celebration with cake, Greek Food, Cuban Food just yesterday, monthly hormones, lack of water and my earlier in the week wrestling with the hard candy jar.  In fact, I am thrilled I was up ONLY one pound!

1. Drink more water, every day all day! (I am a purist about this one.  I know Weight Watchers let you count other beverages toward your liquid consumption but having had kidney issues growing up, I know about the proper functioning of the kidneys and what makes them work more efficiently, water just plain old water, not coffee, not tea, not soda, not anything but water with a slice of lemon for zest!)
2. Be more active.  Push for two walks a day and the gym 3 times this week. Try a new “Sunday” breakfast instead of dry cereal.
3. Try a new recipe (I made salmon patties for the first time in ages today for dinner.  They were good but I know I can “tweak” the recipe a little to make the more tasty! 4 patties were 8 SmartPoints, not bad at all!
4. Enjoy  Christmas Dinner within reason and drink lots of water since my next weigh in is the very next day! I will be eating ham which I love and we know is high in sodium.  I will have a reasonable portion! Yes I will! (programming my head for success! LOL)
5. Faithful tracking and measuring my portions. 

Do I wish I had a loss this past week? Yes I do!  BUT I have learned with your body and weight loss you don’t always get what you expect and sometimes for me, the work I do this week might not show for 2-3 weeks.  The old phrase “stay the course” is the best plan of action!  One poor choice or one bad eating day is no reason to toss in the towel and give up nor is not getting what you expect any reason to give up as well.  Your body might fight you but you have to persevere and know that sooner or later (often later) your efforts will pay off.

Celebrate 2

Weight Watcher’s Beyond the Scale — Part 1(Pre-Program Impressions)

“The biggest change in 50 years”  that is what the advertising says and while that is very exciting  to those just beginning the Weight Watchers Lifestyle it spreads panic and mass hysteria among the already existing long-term members.  The questions/reactions were “Why do I need to change? It has been working so far!”  “I have been losing weight why do I need to change?” “I don’t like the new program!” (said before it even launched!) “I  do not think this new program will work for me, I am going to keep doing the old program!” (said too before they have really lived the program even 7 days) “This new program isn’t going to work for me!” (also said before they had even tried the program)  All of these reactions/statements were based on rumors mostly and very little fact.

The rumors that have been spreading online are scary and members reactions to the rumors are even worse than scary!  To see adults who have been successful with the Weight Watchers Program become screaming toddlers who renounce every change possible has been both sad and amusing at the same time.  I was the first one to scream like a banshee when the online e-tools and phone ap when awry in the migration from the old program to the new.  I did not like the technology suddenly not working, I felt: hurt, betrayed, deserted, scared  and left behind.  I was very vocal to Weight Watchers via Facebook and online feedback forms about them “breaking” e-tools.  I probably sounded like a two-year old who needed a nap but I needed the e-tools to work!

I had to put myself  in check (aka an attitude adjustment) by returning back to the “basics and roots” I had learned years ago.  I resorted to the “ancient” but effective method of tracking via pencil and paper. Good thing I had purchased two 3 month tracking journals!   Nice though in hindsight that I can still track on paper and it works!  In fact, that week I lost 2.6 pounds tracking on paper!  A good reminder that you do not need technology to lose weight! We forget that sometimes, often, okay–a lot.

Listening to the rumors and other members posting on-line I am steeled for my regular Saturday morning meeting to be not the most positive environment and to hear lots of venting and protesting the new changes.  We dislike, umm ok HATE would be the better description for the new meeting room chair arrangement but have reduced our banter down to joking every time we come in and see a new chair arrangement.  We crack lots of jokes about Oprah having a huge studio and how that arrangement works better in a large area but our meeting center isn’t that large.  We joke ok what is Oprah wanting us to do this week? I feel pretty sure that Oprah had nothing to do with our new seat arrangements but it makes for giggles at 8am on a Saturday morning when everyone there would have loved to have slept in but are choosing to be there instead. BRAVO for us, even though we do complain sometimes,  ok a lot, but we do have fun and enjoyable meetings.  We are a very interactive group, sometimes way too interactive for our own good.  We like each other , have a good time and share our struggles and victories.  That is what it is all about right, sharing and caring?  We had the camaraderie/bonding part of Weight Watchers down pat a long time before they wanted us too— in my opinion.

I am excited about the new program though I know I am going to be forced to make a few tweaks to my eating plan I suspect.  One “rumor” that I believe is based in fact is that my daily points allowance and my weekly points allowances will change.  One will go up and one will go down most likely.  Food point values will change.  I have heard that about 50% of the food points stayed the same with the other 50% either going up or going down, some by a little and some by a lot.  I need to shake my eating and exercise up and this is just the ticket to start a new year doing things a little differently.

I will try to keep track of all my thoughts/changes I feel myself going through each step of the way.  I want to blog here each day about my challenges and the changes I encounter.  I keep telling myself we all can use more change! (giggle)

Change Coins 1

The Princess Leia Diet vs. The Yoda Diet

I find it amusing that the media has dubbed Carrie Fisher’s weight loss for the new Star Wars Film as the “Princess Leia” Diet.  Carrie said she had to eat less and work out more to lose more than 35 pounds to earn her spot to reprise the role she made famous in the late 70’s.

What is so “new” or revolutionary about the Princess Leia Diet?  We all “know” you have to eat less and become more active to lose weight, don’t we?  I think it is more accurate to say we need to make wise food choices and make time to get in more movement daily, whether it is the gym, walking the dog, taking the stairs or playing with your children.

I think Yoda’s famous line “Do or do not, there is no try” is the best motto for adopting a healthier lifestyle.  Excuses come easy, and during the holiday season you just have to like Nike says “just do it.”  Mindset is paramount in taking on a new lifestyle.  Yoda was a mind master.  His character showed that no matter your looks or stature you can accomplish great things by harnessing the power of the mind.  Once your mind is set and you put your body into action, there is nothing you can’t accomplish toward your weight loss goals!

Let’s get through this holiday season like a bunch of Storm troopers and blast our way into the New Year with better health!  Don’t be afraid to change, fail and succeed!  Remember the words of wise Yoda, ““Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” (suffering=d keeping those unhealthy habits and excess weight)

Getting hung up on “numbers” (Mind Games)

The last month or two, I have found myself getting very hung up on the “number” on the scale.  It is very frustrating to say the least.   I have put myself back into weight loss mode (out of maintaining mode) trying to get to a number I want to see on the scale.  I have for two weeks been very “strict” with myself and increased my physical activity.  My reward?  In two weeks, I am up 2.4 pounds.  Talk about frustrating!  But that is how weight loss rolls at times.  I have found myself starting to get discouraged over the two gains in a row.   I immediately started grilling myself on what I could have done “wrong” and how I can do more things “right” which isn’t all really bad.  The bad part is when I start getting the feelings of being a “failure” because I “gained” and not “lost.”  That is the mind shift that I am fighting from losing to maintaining and now trying to lose again.  More correctly feeling like I need to lose again.

In a week, I will be going to my yearly checkup at the primary care’s office.  No, I haven’t lost tons of weight since last year but the great thing is that I haven’t gained lots either!  If all goes well, my weigh in at the doctor’s office might show a slight loss since last October (maybe 3-5 pounds) which isn’t a biggie at all but in the BIG picture it is great in my opinion!  Because in the past when I have lost weight, within a year I started packing it on again, and often at least 20 pounds or more within the first year.   So even if I should a small loss, that in itself is a HUGE victory!  Even if I do not see the number on the scale that “I” want to see!

In the “big” picture the number is good, but in the ‘little’ picture in my head, I am not happy with it.  I have to start asking myself why am I not happy with it?  What is pushing/driving me to want to change the number?  I know I have had to “reset” some of my thinking but my brain is fighting hard at times!  I have to admit I am not feeling bad, my clothes are fitting fine, but I want to lose a few “extra” before I go on vacation.  I want a little extra “wiggle” room to enjoy but not over enjoy!